Reading the Lolita Effect in Korea, Part 3: Six Year-Old Does KARA’s “Butt Dance” (엉덩이 춤) on “Shabekuri 007″
Thank you to everyone who’s emailed me about Japanese child star Ashia Mana dancing to KARA’s Mister on a Japanese talk show. For anyone interested in some context, issues raised, and why I think it’s problematic, then please first read Part 2, all of which was written in response to my one of my own daughters doing something similar at her kindergarten. Frankly, it was eerie how much Ashia reminded me of her.
Meanwhile, here’s the “Butt Dance” (엉덩이 춤) being referred to, with handy English subtitles:
And, assuming that you’re read that earlier post, then please consider these additional observations from Meenakshi Durham’s The Lolita Effect, which seem particularly apt here:
…Increasingly, adult sexual motifs are overlapping with childhood — specifically girlhood, shaping an environment in which young girls are increasingly seen as valid participants in a public culture of sex.
In some ways, this is not a new idea: in the 1932 short film “Polly Tix in Washington”, a four year-old Shirley Temple played a pint-sized prostitute. Sashaying around in lacy lingerie and ropes of pearls, she announced “Boss Flint Eye sent me over to entertain you…but I’m expensive!”. Critics have commented on the overt lewdness of this and other films the toddler was case in as part of the “Baby Burlesks” series, which were designed for adult viewers and included frequent scenes of little girls in diapers aping the sexual behaviors and attitudes of much older women. In latter films too, Temple projected an “oddly precocious” sensuality, as the film historian Marianne Sinclair has observed — in fact, the acclaimed novelist Graham Greene was sued for commenting on it a film review. (pp. 115-116)
Indeed, Temple herself later described the series as a cynical exploitation of her childish innocence. Appearing from 3:16 below, you’ll soon see why:
But why is it deeply disturbing when 4 year-old Shirley Temple assumes some sexual poses, and all but blurts out that she’s interested in having sex with the “men”, whereas it’s supposedly as kawaii as hell for 6 year-old Ashia Mana to do, well, almost exactly the same thing? Granted, some actual kissing is involved in the former, but then I’d argue that the majority of viewers would still find the film at least a little concerning without it. In contrast, I’d wager most of us have much more mixed feelings about Ashia Mana, and I’m curious as to why.
With me, I think it’s through seeing my daughter Alice in Ashia, and knowing that she’s completely unaware of the implications of what she’s saying, and rather simply having fun and/or fulfilling her natural urge to copy adults. But which is not quite the same as saying it would have been okay for Alice’s kindergarten to have her dance to the much more sexual Mister rather than Lupin however, let alone for any child do it on national television simply for our titillation.
But other than that, I’ve pretty much said all I can myself in that earlier 3400(!) word post, so I’d really appreciate hearing your own thoughts!^^
Filed under: Body Image, East Asia, Gender Socialization, Girl Groups, Korean Children and Teenagers, Korean Media, Korean Music, Korean Sexuality, Teenage Sexuality Tagged: Ashida Mana, Baby Burlesk, Butt Dance, 미스터, 엉덩이 춤, 카라, Kara, Mister, Polly Tix in Washington, Shirley Temple